Tribute to the Sprint Queen – Lydia de Vega

Lydia De Vega - Photo From prosporttimes

Maria Lydia de Vega-Mercado or more known as Lydia de Vega: The Legendary Sprint Queen of the Philippines. A mother and a woman who has a heart for Filipinos. In this article, we will give tribute to our sprint queen, all about her achievements, her words of wisdom, and her legacy that brings so much inspiration and hope to our country.

Let us remember our Sprint Queen and her exceptional ability and unprecedented athletic moments: Lydia de Vega.

She said “There are a lot of potential national athletes in the countryside and they are just waiting to be discovered.” These were her words at the time she was the consultant of the Philippine Sports Commission as the athletes were trained to prepare them in becoming strong, resilient and determine athletes. Lydia de Vega believes in the capacity, talent and capabilities of Filipino Athletes.

What can our country could ask for, from having a legend like Lydia de Vega who astonishingly put the map of the Philippines on track to be known not just in the league of Sports but by raising the flag of the Philippines around the world? Lydia de Vega: A legend; An Icon; A Phenomenal Athlete; An Inspiration and pride to our country such an incomparable athlete who bestowed our country and is acknowledged on the league of SPORTS Worldwide.  A luminary dignified legend to all of us Filipinos. As a tribute to our hero and Sprint Queen Lydia de Vega let us take a look back at how she legendary created kilometer moves for us Filipino People as her running mate to her success and in her inspiring act of creating a difference for us Filipinos and around the world.

Here are the Sprint Queen Lydia de Vega’s Achievements:

  • She is the Asian fastest woman for 8 years from 1982 – 1990
  • A record Holder in 100m with 11.28 seconds SEA Games
  • A former 200m record holder of 23.35 seconds from 1987 to 2001.
  • Asian Games two gold medalists and one silver medal
  • Nine Gold medals and two silver medals in 5 Sea Games
  • Nine Gold and two silver medals in 5 ASEAN Cups
  • 3 Asean Schools Track and Field meet nine golds
  • Best Female athlete in 1983 and also in 1986
  • Athlete of the Year in 1981, 1986 and 1987
  • A Hall of Famer in 1994
  • Major Awardee in the year 1992 and 1993 and special award in 1994
  • Athlete of the Century in 1998 and Millennium Athlete in 1999
  • The sprint queen has an education an Associate in Arts from Mount San Antonio College USA
  • Bachelor of Science in Education Major in Physical Education in Far Easter University
  • In the 1970s Lydia de Vega was part of the Far Eastern University Tamaraws varsity team, she was discovered in the National Games or “Palarong Pambansa” back then she became a member of the “Gintong Alay” track and field program.
  • Back then 14-year-old Lydia de Vega started to compete in Track and Field with an outstanding 27.5 seconds for the 200m and was the silver medalist in the Philippine National Junior Championship
  • She was coached none other than by her father Francisco de Vega.

Why Lydia de Vega was called the “SPRINT QUEEN”? simply because Lydia de Vega won multiple gold medals in the Asian Games and SEA Games for a decade. She is Asia’s fastest woman. She is the queen of the tracks, she is so powerful and her power in her gain ground is an action that is so unique, unbelievable, and unforgettable.  A 32 years record length that she was considered the most incomparable locally produced athlete in our country Philippines. She said once that “This I learned from being an athlete; no matter what adversities atrocities towards my name, it will not stop me from becoming what I intend to be” and then she was, there she was, she was unstoppable in achieving her dreams.

The Sprint Queen Continuously Crafting her Accomplishment:

Lydia de Vega gives back to her hometown as she became a Councilor in her native land Mecauayan Bulacan. She was also appointed as a Liaison Officer of the Alliance of Coaches and Athletes of the Philippines Sports and Commission.  She is a popular figure in our country Philippines where in 1983 “Medalyang Ginto” or Gold Medal was her life story movie that portrays her achievements and her true-to-life base story. A two-part series about her life was also shown in the Magpakailan show. She eventually became Singapore Coach and in her coaching, passionately she said “I take every day as a new challenge to improve myself and I’m making sure younger Athlete learns the right tricks. It is a Passion. I tremendously want to give my best shot as much as I can”

Last August 10, 2022, sad news from her daughter Stephanie “Paneng” Mercado-de Koenigswarter Lydia de Vega the fastest woman in 1980’s pass away at 57 after battling breast cancer for four years. According to her daughter, she fought a good fight against her sickness. On this bereavement moment, the House of Representatives adopted House Resolution No. 231 in Acknowledging the contributions, victories, and triumphant of Lydia de Vega. When she wins, our country also wins. She is acknowledged for her world-class talent. Her victory is also our victory; her track and field career gives us a leap and brings us together as one. Lydia de Vega undoubtedly won every Filipino’s heart.  An Athletic Champion that gave us a back to back gold medals in Asian Games. Lydia de Vega-Mercado was laid to rest Wednesday, Aug. 17, in MeycauayanBulacan.

From meters to kilometers, from running to fighting, to you our great Legend Sprint Queen you will always be historically remembered. Our deepest honor and respect remain for the legacy of Lydia de Vega that is forever imprinted in our country Philippines. Hence, the immense contribution of Lydia de Vega by giving an outstanding service running in the track and field with courage and determination we would like to say THANK YOU our SPRINT Queen! And we will remember your words that: “Sports have had a great impact on my life. It allowed me to bring prestige to my country and molded me into what I am today. I want my children to experience the same.” –Lydia de Vega

For those of you who are inspired and persevere in life like Lydia de Vega that opted to make difference in pursuing your life goals you deserve the best. For the times you pull out that determination like the sprint queen, and you who are unstoppable in achieving your dreams the best opportunity is always yours.

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Written by Rowena Lansang